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Circuit Avenue is the bustling center of the Oak Bluffs action, with most of the town's shops, bars, and restaurants. Colorful gingerbread-trimmed guesthouses and food and souvenir joints enliven Oak Bluffs Harbor, once the setting for several grand hotels (the 1879 Wesley Hotel on Lake Avenue is the last remaining one). This small town is more high spirited than haute, more fun than refined.
Oak Bluffs has a fascinating history. Purchased from the Wampanoags in the 1660s, the town was a farming community that did not come into its own until the 1830s, when Methodists began holding summer revivalist meetings in a stand of oaks known as Wesleyan Grove, named for Methodism's founder, John Wesley. As the camp meetings caught on, attendees built small cottages (today's colorful Oak Bluffs Campground) in place of tents. Then the general population took notice and the area became a popular summer vacation spot. Hotels, a dance hall, a roller-skating rink, and other shops and amusements were built to accommodate summer visitors. Today the Tabernacle of the Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association still holds religious services as well as hosting cultural events, and a small Cottage Museum recalls the community's history.
Oak Bluffs at a Glance
Elsewhere in Martha's Vineyard
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